A delay in submitting a planning application for the Thanet Parkway Station was caused by the need to amend a junction design and pedestrian and cycle access, says Kent County Council.
The parkway station will be built off the Hengist Way, on the existing Ashford to Ramsgate rail line near the Sevenscore roundabout. It had originally been expected to open in 2019 with a second consultation revising that date to 2020. The delay means it is now predicted to open in 2021.
The aim is to provide improved services to London Stratford International station with travel times being reduced to around one hour. Currently the average journey time between Ramsgate and London St Pancras Intl is 1 hour 35 minutes. The fastest journey time is 1 hour 16 minutes.
A KCC business case produced in 2016 said the construction would also support potential new development at Discovery Park Enterprise Zone, Manston Business Park, EuroKent Business Park and the former Manston airport site.
A planning application for the project, which was initially expected to cost £11.2 million but has now been estimated by KCC at £21.4 million, was due to be submitted last year but the amendments have pushed this back to April this year.
The design changes follow a second public consultation on the scheme which was held last year. Concerns over road access included congestion, traffic signals and accessing the new station via a T junction rather than a roundabout.
There were also issues raised over the cycle path/footpath access from Earlsmead Crescent in Cliffsend with fears it would open the way for extra car parking and be too great a distance for any passenger outside of Cliffsend.
The KCC design team are reviewing and amending these parts of the plan.
A Kent County Council spokesman said: “During the consultation the majority of respondents expressed general agreement with the proposals, but comments were received on the pedestrian/cycle and highways access arrangements.
“We had intended to submit a planning application later in 2017 but because of the response to the consultation we took time to reassess our proposals and develop an improved junction design that will have a reduced impact on the A299 Hengist Way.
“Work is currently ongoing to complete the documents for the planning application, which we plan to formally submit in late April.
“Whilst it is somewhat disappointing that this has caused a delay to the opening time for the station – previously 2020 – we are determined to ensure that the station and associated infrastructure is the best that can be achieved for Thanet and the surrounding areas.
“We are now projecting to open the station in 2021, and alongside the planning application we are working towards the next stage in the design process with Network Rail.
“We’re aware that Thanet District Council voted to refuse approval of its draft Local Plan but we will continue to work with the district council to enable the delivery of development and infrastructure in response to local needs.”
The station was first proposed in 2010. It is being funded by the Local Growth Fund (LGF) through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) along with a contribution from KCC.
The original estimated cost of the project was £11.2 million but in 2016 documents from a South East England Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) and Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) meeting said the cost could rise to £26 million. KCC rebutted this at the time saying construction costs were expected to be £16 million but the latest projection is £21.4million.
A government grant of £10 million was agreed through the Regional Growth Scheme but this still left a significant shortfall.
A funding gap of £8.75million still exists after a bid last year to the Network Rail and the Department for Transport’s New Stations Fund was unsuccessful.
A KCC spokesman said: “We are currently exploring other options to fill the funding gap.
“KCC are contributing £2.65million from our own capital, and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership are contributing £10million from the Local Growth Fund.
“The lower cost estimate was from an early stage in the project and the revised figure of £21.4million is based on the GRIP (Guide to Rail Investment Process) 3 design, which is a feasibility design.
“We will refine the cost estimate in the later GRIP stages, with outline design and then detailed design.”
Thanet Parkway Station proposal
Thanet Parkway will be a two platform station. The station entrance will be on the north side adjacent to the car park with platforms accessible by stairs, lift and pedestrian bridge.
Waiting shelters, CCTV and passenger information points will be provided on each platform along with ticket machines and a help point to provide remote assistance by intercom.
The station is designed to be unstaffed and managed remotely through the use of CCTV and intercom.
However, a station building could be added in the future to include facilities such as a coffee shop, toilets, waiting room and a ticket office or facilities to accommodate station staff. Once operational, it will be for the train operating company to decide on staffing levels.
The proposed station will include 300 parking spaces offering both long and short stay parking. The car park will also include disabled bays, a dedicated area for motorcycles, spaces offering electric car charging points and cycle storage. There will be lighting and CCTV cameras as well as a pick up/drop off area and a reserved taxi rank.
Charges for parking at the station will be decided by Kent County Council following submission of the planning application although the business case report in 2016 suggested the benefits of a £3.50 per day charge.
Annual operating cost are forecast to be £133,000 for the station and £79,500 for the car park.
The preferred option for road access was to provide a two-way single access road from Hengist Way (A299). A signalised T-junction with dedicated turning lanes would provide access from the A299. This aspect is now being redesigned.
KCC estimates the station will be used by up to 153,000 passengers a year by 2031. Ramsgate station has over 400,000 passengers per annum.
Income from fares is predicted to be at least £684,000 in the opening year, rising to £1,004,000 by year 10.